PARIS – Bells tolled across France and Europe on Sunday as President Donald Trump and other global leaders gathered to honor the dead of World War I and heed its harsh lessons to prevent conflicts.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has criticized Trump's "America First" foreign policy, decried excessive "nationalism" at the root of World War I and successive conflicts.
"Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," Macron told a gathering of world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Trump. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying, ‘Our interest first, who cares about the others?’ "
Hosting an event to mark the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I, Macron told fellow leaders they have a "huge responsibility" to defeat modern forces that threaten a "legacy of peace" from the two world wars of the past century.
"I know there are old demons coming back to the surface," the French president said. "They are ready to wreak chaos and death."
Macron did not refer specifically to Trump, who occasionally frowned during the speech.
Trump did not respond to Macron publicly. During a speech later Sunday at a World War I-era cemetery, Trump praised the French leader for hosting the event he called "very beautiful" and "well done."
In defending "America First," Trump has often said the United States needs to address its own needs. During a meeting with Macron on Saturday, Trump said other countries need to share the burdens of mutual defense and free trade: "We want to help Europe, but it has to be fair."
Before the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, the bells at Notre Dame and other cathedrals in Paris and across the continent rang at the exact time the armistice took effect: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago.
The event itself ran a little late as Macron and other leaders marched up the Champs-Elysees toward the event site.
Trump arrived separately, not without incident: A topless woman ran toward the presidential motorcade but was quickly caught by police. She had the words "fake peacemakers" written on her body.
Anti-Trump demonstrators were arrested throughout the day.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump went to the event separately "due to security protocols."
Holding umbrellas, the president and first lady Melania Trump greeted Macron and other guests, including Putin.
The Russian president gave Trump a thumbs up and patted him on the upper arm.
During the ceremony, a military band played "La Marseillaise"; a choir of veterans later sang the French national anthem a capella. Yo-Yo Ma, seated near the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the arc, performed cello solos. The French air force staged a flyover.
Other countries held similar World War I commemorations, from Australia and New Zealand to England and India.
To safeguard Trump and more than 60 other world leaders in attendance, the Paris event took place amid heavy security.
Saturday night, siren-blaring police vehicles began lining the streets around the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his military victories and finished more than a decade after his death in exile.
Domestic politics also occupied Trump's mind.
In a tweet 20 minutes before the program, Trump attributed the California wildfires to poor supervision of forest lands. "With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!" he said.
For the American president, the program at the Arc de Triomphe began a day of commemorations before he boarded Air Force One to head back to Washington.
After a luncheon with other leaders, Trump traveled to a World War I cemetery.
Trump canceled a trip Saturday to another cemetery. The White House cited rainy weather, saying it would have created problems for the helicopters that would have ferried the president.
Except for tweets about the wildfires in California and election recounts in Florida, Trump has kept a relatively low profile during his weekend in Paris.
During a ceremonial dinner Saturday, the Turkish government released a photo of Trump seated next to its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hours after Erdogan said he had provided the United States and other countries with audiotapes of last month's murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"I can confirm they sat next to one another and they discussed the ongoing tragic situation with Khashoggi," Sanders said.
A century ago, many in the USA and Europe recoiled from the mass destruction of World War I, the horrors of trench warfare and gas attacks. The war wiped out monarchies and forged new countries in Europe and the Middle East, but it did not end international rivalries that led to the war.
Germany, angry over war reparations imposed by rivals and eager for revenge, turned to Adolf Hitler. World War II began in 1939.
During events over the weekend, Macron said the global community must work together to prevent conflicts.
"The message, if we want to live up to the sacrifice of those soldiers who said, ‘Never again!’, is to never yield to our weakest instincts, nor to efforts to divide us," Macron told a group of youngsters during a visit Saturday to the Compiegne Forest.
Merkel attended the event at Compiegne, the site where Germany surrendered to France and allies after World War I and where France surrendered to Hitler's Germany at the start of World War II.
"A century on, as we see nationalist voices again on the rise across the globe," tweeted Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former secretary-general of NATO. "we must keep in mind the price we paid to build the peace and enjoy the freedoms we do today."
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said Macron made a good point: "We're seeing a very concerning trend toward nationalistic, anti-democratic leaders; they are abandoning multilateralism."
Trump "certainly speaks like that," she said. "America First."